Welsh Conservatives to debate plans to improve support for carers

Welsh Conservatives will today (Wednesday) debate the role of carers and our plans to increase support for carers across Wales.

The opposition day debate coincides with Carers Week 2018, and the motion recognises the vital contribution made to society by the estimated 370,000 unpaid carers of all ages across Wales, whilst also calling on the Welsh Government to:

  • Implement the Welsh Conservative policy for a Young Carers Future Grant, which would ensure young carers are supported to pursue further and higher full time education and training opportunities;
  • Publish figures for how many carers' needs have been assessed since the introduction of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and how many of those assessed needs have been met;
  • Introduce a right to respite for both carers and those they care for.

Regrettably, the Welsh Government has tabled an amendment to the motion, deleting point 2, and the Shadow Culture Secretary – Suzy Davies – has accused them of “seeking to evade scrutiny”.

The debate comes a week after the Welsh Conservatives announced proposals for a Young Carers Future Grant, which would give young adult carers, who lose their care allowance, £60 a week to enable them to enter full time education and training.

At present, young adult carers fall foul of the so-called 21-hour rule, which means that they cannot study on a course exceeding 21 hours per week and still claim carers’ allowance of £62.70 per week.

Commenting ahead of the debate, Shadow Social Services Secretary, Suzy Davies AM, said:

“Carers make a vital contribution to Welsh society and there are a number of measures the Welsh Government could implement now to ease the burden on their shoulders.

“For a start, we want to see a proper assessment of the needs of Wales’ many carers – something the Welsh Government was supposed to be doing as a result of their own Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

“Not for the first time, however, the Welsh Government is seeking to evade scrutiny.

“Refusing to publish this data merely suggests that not enough progress is being made to assess the needs of our carers, or to ensure that their needs are met.”

Mrs Davies said the Welsh Conservatives would introduce measures to help carers to “re-charge their batteries”.

She said:

“We would introduce a ‘right to respite’ for both carers where time spent caring can be rewarded with time off to re-charge their batteries and enable them to return to their care duties free from stress and ill-health.

“The physical and emotional toll of their work should not be underestimated - it can lead to anxiety, depression and a host of other illnesses unless they receive the rest and support they deserve.

“And we’ve been clear that young adult carers shouldn’t have to drop out of part or full time education, or apprenticeship opportunities, just because they have caring responsibilities.

“Our young adult carers are true heroes, undervalued even though they keep families together and take the strain of looking after vulnerable family members. If we can help them keep up with the continuing education or apprenticeships they may need to plan for their own futures, then we absolutely should.”

“The Young Adult Carers Futures Grant means that they wouldn’t have to worry about losing their carers allowance just because they wanted to continue in education.  it will help give young adult carers access to vital opportunities that they often miss out on through no fault of their own.”

“The Welsh Government should back these steps to ensure we clearly recognise the contribution that carers make to our society, and the estimated £5.7billion they save the Welsh economy in unpaid care, through increased support and funding. Communities across Wales depend on it.”